Applying for a Student Visa to Teach English in Spain

Applying for a Student Visa to Teach English in Spain

Sarah at the Jefferson Memorial while applying for her visa in SpainFor many recent US graduates looking to teach and/or travel, teaching English abroad in Spain as a language assistant is a fantastic way to gain experience, boost a resume, and see the world. There are many programs available to those who wish to teach in Spain, and all of them require obtaining a visa in order to stay in the country for more than the 90 days permitted as a tourist.  

Most teaching programs enroll their language assistants in an academic course so that they can apply for a student visa, which is much easier to obtain than a work visa in Spain. The process of securing a student visa in Spain can be overwhelming and confusing, so to help you better understand the steps, I’ll explain them here. For further information, visit the DC consulate website.

As you’re applying for your visa in Spain, keep in mind that this year some regulations have changed due to the pandemic. For example, you may only arrive in Spain fifteen days before the start date of your program when coming on a student visa. Be sure to stay up to date on these restrictions and any changes to consulate policies before starting the process.

How Do You Get A Student Visa in Spain?

So, what do you need to obtain your student visa?  First of all, the program you’re teaching with should provide a letter verifying enrollment and stating your income, proof of insurance, and the start date. This letter alone satisfies many of the requirements for the student visa and is invaluable. Be sure to make copies of it!

National Mall and Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

Next, you need either a state or FBI background check. Choose whichever you feel is easier, but start this process early! This should be your first step after you’re accepted to a teaching program. After receiving your background check, you will then need to get it certified with an Apostille of the Hague. The apostille proves that your document is legitimate in certain foreign countries (Spain is one of these). 

The background certification process is an easy but time-consuming ordeal. You will need to mail the background check to a government office in order to obtain the apostille. Where you send your document will depend on what state you live in, so you’ll need to look up the appropriate office to send it to. If you’re confused, I recommend emailing a Spanish consulate or the study abroad department at your college or university. If you studied out of state, you can contact a local college or university for help.  

Tip: When arriving in Spain, certain programs will request a notarized and apostilled diploma as proof that you have completed your studies and graduated. It may be helpful to apostille both the diploma and the background check at the same time. To notarize your diploma, simply head to your nearest library! Many libraries have a public notary that can provide this service.

Proof of Health

In addition, you’ll need a doctor’s note on their official letterhead within ninety days of your departure date stating that you’re in good health and not carrying any infectious diseases. This must be completed in your state of residence, or it will be considered invalid. Many doctors have never done this before and some do not have an official letterhead. At the very least, make sure that they include their name and address at the top of the letter. Additionally, the letter must be in both Spanish and English. This seems complicated, but your physician can simply copy the text onto their official letterhead and sign and date in both languages using an official translation service.

Facing the Embassy For Your Student Visa in Spain

You also need to print and fill out two copies of the application for a national visa in Spain. When you turn in your paperwork, you must provide copies of all the above documents, as well as your physical passport, a copy of the picture page of your passport, and a passport-sized photo. Ensure you scan the important pages of your passport, because you’ll be without it for several weeks while the embassy processes your visa.

The embassy requires a fee of $160.00 paid either in cash or by money order made to the embassy of Spain. This is a hefty fee, so check and double-check all of your paperwork before you turn it in to avoid repeating it. Finally, you’ll need a self-addressed and prepaid US express mail envelope from the post office. This is how your passport and visa will be returned to you. As you cannot turn in your application without it, this is a very important step.

Visa Checklist:

  • Apostilled background check
  • Two copies of the visa application
  • A medical certificate in both Spanish and English
  • The letter provided by your program
  • A passport-sized photo
  • Your passport and copy of the picture page
  • A prepaid, self-addressed express mail envelope from the US post office
  • $160.00 fee
  • Copies of EVERYTHING, both for yourself and the embassy
  • (Optional) A copy of your airline ticket

The Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C., which Sarah visited to apply for her visa in Spain.

Follow Up For Any Regional Procedural Differences

Spain has many consulates throughout the US, so check online to find out which one you need to go to. Some require prior appointments, while others, such as the DC embassy, allow walk-ins, so make sure to check beforehand. Certain consulates may accept mail-in applications due to the current situation. Usually, you must go to the consulate in your region and turn in your paperwork in person. Budget for plenty of time for the consulate to reply, especially if the nearest one is not in your state.  

Once you’ve turned in your paperwork, you’re done. Now you just have to wait three to six weeks for your visa to arrive in the mail.  Good luck and see you in Spain!

by Sarah Perkins Guebert

36 thoughts on “Applying for a Student Visa to Teach English in Spain

  1. Great information! I did this process many years ago but to go to the US as an international student, good luck on getting your visa!

  2. This is very detailed and surely useful for those who want to explore teaching opportunities in Spain. Thank you for sharing this guideline!

  3. This article is of so much help. Mainly for people those who want to make a career in Spain as a teacher. Most important is those rules which have changed due to the ongoing pandemic situation.

  4. This is such a detailed information. Preparing documents for Visa process bewilders me on many levels and I always look for detailed information on it. I found this post quite useful.

    1. I’m glad you found it useful! Preparing documents for any government process can be really overwhelming, especially the first time you do it!

  5. Hi it’s Brenda from RubyHemMinistries.com It seems like this is something you’re passionate about so I wish you well with your journey. I hope you get to spend time in Spain!

  6. This is super helpful if you want to teach English in Spain. I could see how they would be a fabulous experience. I know some people who taught English in Korea and loved it.

    1. I almost did that, myself. Sometimes I still think about it. So many people have had such a positive experience teaching in South Korea, I might have to try it myself!

  7. Studying and working abroad is an amazing opportunity to see Europe. Thank you for sharing these tips on how to easily obtain a student work visa.

  8. I had no idea the process to do this type of thing. It’s great that you can help others learn English and work towards pursuing a goal that’s important to you. What an excellent experience to have.

  9. My husband and I would like to do something like this when we fully retire. We’d love to teach English in a foreign country!

  10. So helpful! I’ve always wanted to teach English in another country – Spain is a great option as I also speak Spanish. I will definitely look into this. Thank you!

  11. I love Spain and I would like to visit it a lot! This could be the best excuse to visit it!

  12. This is really a great information. Many will benefit from this post. And I will share this with my friends who are thinking of getting student visa.

  13. This is such a great opportunity, as you already mentioned! This was not openly available when I was finishing school. And you are right that starting early is the best way to go. This is an excellent article–the checklist is perfect!

    1. It wasn’t a very widely known option when I graduated, either! Luckily one of my professors knew about it and told me, otherwise I might never have moved to Spain!

  14. You’ve got some great information here. Sounds like such a fun opportunity too. I’m glad that you were able to share this with us. It’s great to learn something new.

  15. I always wondered how the foreign teaching thing went. There are a lot of steps, but all of that protects you as a foreigner. This is good information.

  16. Student Visa in Spain is something I’m eyeing for before. Thanks for the info. It’s so helpful for prospective students.

  17. I have never been to Europe, and it would be neat to travel and teach abroad. Sounds like an awesome experience!

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